Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Redistribution of wealth

I am often asked, by my less politically minded acquaintances, what I mean when I say "I'm a leftist; not a liberal." One of my oversimplified, in-a-nutshell explanations is that I am in favor of an income ceiling and a complete redistribution of wealth.

Krugman's Monday column makes it clear that Bush, too, is in favor of redistributing wealth:

Let's consider the Bush tax cuts and the Bush benefit cuts as a package. Who gains? Who loses?

Suppose you're a full-time Wal-Mart employee, earning $17,000 a year. You probably didn't get any tax cut. But Mr. Bush says, generously, that he won't cut your Social Security benefits.

Suppose you're earning $60,000 a year. On average, Mr. Bush cut taxes for workers like you by about $1,000 per year. But by 2045 the Bush Social Security plan would cut benefits for workers like you by about $6,500 per year. Not a very good deal.

Suppose, finally, that you're making $1 million a year. You received a tax cut worth about $50,000 per year. By 2045 the Bush plan would reduce benefits for people like you by about $9,400 per year. We have a winner!

I'm not being unfair. In fact, I've weighted the scales heavily in Mr. Bush's favor, because the tax cuts will cost much more than the benefit cuts would save. Repealing Mr. Bush's tax cuts would yield enough revenue to call off his proposed benefit cuts, and still leave $8 trillion in change.
I think I'm going to have to work on nuancing my explanations a bit.

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